You’ve only got 6 months left to buy the best Forza Horizon game (2024)

Playground Games and Microsoft have announced that Forza Horizon 4 will be delisted on Dec. 15. From then on, the 2018 open-world racing game and its additional content will no longer be available for purchase from the Xbox Store, the Microsoft Store, or Steam, and it’ll be removed from Game Pass. It will remain playable for people who own a digital or physical copy, and online features will still be available.

Delisting older games is an increasingly common practice, and a worrying one for game preservation. In the world of racing games, however, it’s nothing new. The genre depends heavily on licensing deals with car manufacturers (and often music publishers). These deals typically have a built-in expiry date that requires the games be removed from sale after a set period of time. Indeed, Playground noted that Forza Horizon 4’s delisting was “due to licensing and agreements with our partners.”

There’s not much to be done about that, but it still sucks that many historically important or just plain brilliant racing games are difficult to buy and play today. It particularly sucks that this fate has befallen Forza Horizon 4, which is generally considered the high point of Playground’s freewheeling racing series.

You’ve only got 6 months left to buy the best Forza Horizon game (1) Image: Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios

In truth, there’s no such thing as a bad Forza Horizon game. I’m fond of all of them — including the current, Mexico-set entry, Forza Horizon 5. Forza Horizon started as a spinoff of the Gran Turismo-style circuit racing series Forza Motorsport but has now fully eclipsed it. That’s thanks to the Horizon games’ joyful festival vibe, and the inherent accessibility and fun of exploring large, beautiful maps based on real-world tourist destinations in a range of cool, exotic, and even eccentric cars.

But there’s one reason why the fourth entry sets itself apart — or rather, one reason that feeds into many others. Forza Horizon 4 is set in Britain. As a Brit, perhaps I’m biased. But the point is that Playground Games is also British, so it’s biased, too. You can sense that added level of familiarity with and love for the British landscape and British car culture in every corner of the game.

The game’s gorgeous map is a compressed tour of the island of Great Britain that transitions smoothly from the honey-colored villages of the Cotswolds, through the eerie moorland and coastal castles of Northumberland, to the majestic Scottish highlands, stopping to take in the granite spires of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh — making its first appearance in a racing game since Bizarre Creations’ excellent Project Gotham Racing 2. (Horizon 4 creative director Ralph Fulton, now leading development of the new Fable, is a proud Scot, which is evident from playing the game.)

You’ve only got 6 months left to buy the best Forza Horizon game (2) Image: Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios

The changeable British weather also led to the inspired addition of seasons, which transform the map (and the terrain physics and vehicle handling) through spring, summer, fall, and winter. You’ve never seen overcast British skies, or the sun wanly shining through spring showers, rendered so well in a video game. Seasons returned in Forza Horizon 5, but although the Mexican climate allows for some spectacular weather effects, it doesn’t allow for whole-map transformations as effective as Forza Horizon 4’s blanket of snow.

The U.K.’s proud automotive history is on full display in Forza Horizon 4, too, highlighted in some of the game’s story events in which you get to drive the likes of Minis, London black cabs, Land Rovers, sleek 1960s Jaguars, and the unstoppable, supercharged 1931 Bentley.

Forza Horizon 4 marked a shift toward ongoing, live-service-style content in the series, and Playground has come up with a reasonable plan for winding this down now that the game is being delisted. The game’s final Festival Playlist series will begin July 25 and end on Aug. 22. Some daily and weekly challenges will continue after this date, and all previously Playlist-exclusive reward cars will be made available via the Backstage Pass system. A few Festival Playlist-themed achievements will be impossible to earn after Aug. 22.

Unlike some other racing game series, where content accumulates over time and tracks are recycled from one entry to the next, the open-world map for each edition of Forza Horizon lends it a unique flavor. For that reason alone, Forza Horizon 4 is well worth having in your library — where else are you going to get to blast down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and up Arthur’s Seat at 100 miles per hour?

Microsoft will be offering deals on the game through its eventual delisting in December; it’s currently 80% off on Steam, with the Ultimate Edition coming in at just $19.99. If you’ve any interest in racing games, you should snap it up while you still can.

You’ve only got 6 months left to buy the best Forza Horizon game (2024)
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